When they coined Rugby Union’s moniker, ‘The Game They Play in Heaven’, this is the match they must have been anticipating.
The clash between Australia and New Zealand at Stadium Australia has been described as the greatest game of Rugby ever played.
Played in front of a record crowd of 109,874 at Sydney’s Olympic venue, the All Blacks stormed out to an incredible 21-0 lead as Tana Umaga, Pita Alatini and Christian Cullen finished off sensational long-range tries in the first five minutes of the match.
But the Wallabies regrouped and – courtesy of a Stirling Mortlock double and tries to Chris Latham and Joe Roff – drew level at 24-all in the 32nd minute.
The second half was no less extraordinary. The hosts edged to a three-point lead, but All Blacks halfback Justin Marshall streaked away for a try from the ensuing restart to put the visitors back in front.
The tries dried up, but the intensity and drama doubled, and Wallabies hooker Jeremy Paul dived over out wide with eight minutes to go to snatch a 35-34 advantage. An unbelievable game was capped by a thrilling finish as legendary winger Jonah Lomu powered over in the 78th minute to seal a 39-35 triumph for the All Blacks.
Australia ultimately retained the Bledisloe Cup, however, thanks to a last-minute sideline conversion by John Eales that clinched a 24-23 escape in Wellington, while the Wallabies also secured the Tri Nations Cup with another dramatic one-point win over South Africa in Durban.